I'm no stranger to a creative community or two. If you've read any of my previous blogs, I've met some lovely, like minded people in the form of fellow colour lovers from In Colourful Company. And, how can we forget, my first foray into the creative bloggers world, Blogtacular. There is a third creative community that has been in my life since the middle of last year. Around August 2018, I became a paid member of the Indie Rollercoaster, Make it Happen group. There are no words to say how much of a positive impact this little group has had on me and my business. I just cannot express the love and gratitude I have for my involvement in all these communities. They hold such a special place in my heart.
I've been battling with my mental health again lately, which is a whole other blog post right there! I'm currently seeing psychiatrists to try to get a proper diagnosis but as you may've guessed, the NHS is rubbish for mental health. So it's a very slow process and in the meantime, I have to just roll with it! So most of January I was on a downer and am still struggling to get motivated. It was pretty apt to be going for a business networking event on Monday 21st January, apparently billed as the saddest day of the year, 'blue Monday'. It was just the thing I needed to kick start me into 2019!
The event was held at Dreamland Margate, in the ballroom. I didn't actually take any pics of the building as I was too nervous to just get there and get settled! However, as soon as I stepped off the train and saw the sea, I immediately felt at home! Living in Southend-on-Sea, my very own seaside town, it was just really comforting to be by the sea! As much as I love my creative communities and always have so much fun, it doesn't mean my anxiety levels are low. Far from it. I stress about what to wear, always overthinking about stuff such as being colourful and 'on brand' but still wanting to feel comfy and wear practical/weather appropriate clothing! And the fact of wanting to look my 'best self' as the youngsters say, because I know I will be photographed! If the meet up is in London, which, mostly, they are, as it's the closest, most central town for meet ups for me, then I'm usually on extra alert on what to wear. The reason being is that I see London as the trendy capital and so I worry even more about what people might think of me and wanting to fit in with this trendy persona I seem to build up in my head. It's so stupid and I hate caring what people think, but, hey, I'm only human I guess.
This was what I decided to wear, it wasn't as bright as I'd have liked, I felt positively dull compared to my rainbow bright colleagues! But I did feel pretty sexy in the PU skirt from Simply Be. I also loved the 'Messa' t-shirt by Sew as it fit my aesthetic of being funky! I tried out a new online personal shopper service from Lookiero, which is where the t-shirt came from. I really enjoyed the experience. You basically fill out a survey detailing your style preferences, what type of work you do and how much emphasis you want on work or leisure. Then they send you out 5 items, mine included a pair of jeans, a classic blazer, a floral dress, a floral top and the t-shirt. I loved how they gave you style notes of how to pair it all together and visuals too! As a creative, I don't need much help in coordinating my wardrobe. But when you're a full on colour and print lover, sometimes a bit of help is needed in putting it all together so as not to look like a big clashing rainbow mess! If you fancy giving it a go, you can enjoy 10% off your first order with this code: LKJULIAL3O5. It is a referall code, so just means I will get a £10 credit if you place an order with my code.
Anyhoo, I digress. It's always a bit surreal when you meet online friends in real life. Someone described it as 'I feel like I've just stepped into Facebook'! Having attended Blogtacular for 3 years running and having built real friendships with these guys, I'd kind of got over the shock of how it feels. It's just such a different experience getting to know someone online and then being with them in person. I tend to talk about my deep thoughts on how technology is changing us and this kind of thing is exactly that! If I wasn't a blogger, I would probably shun all technology and happily be a troglodyte! But I guess this sort of stuff is really ingrained in me now anyway so I don't think I would actually cope without it! My immediate thought to giving up my smart phone was this: 'how would I get all my information'?! Being able to Google at the touch of a button, contacting friends, keeping ahead of current affairs and daily news. I could get that stuff in other ways. Use a land line, buy a newspaper and schedule lap top time if I desperately needed to research something. It's just too easy when it's all at our fingertips.
The Round table event went a bit like this:
I tried to post this pic to Instagram on the night of the event while we were chilling in the pub that evening but for some reason, technical/signal problems etc. it just didn't upload. Everything was speaking to me at that moment. I don't know if it was the fact I was a little tipsy from lack of food and downing a couple of strong ales, the comforting and feel good 80's music that reminded me of my Reflex (80's nightclub) clubbing days or just that I was feeling generally happy and relaxed in good company. The symbolism from this pic was brought on by the lipstick mark. (I dare you not to have 'Back for Good' by Take That playing in your head as you read this!) After an amazing day of feeling empowered in my business, accepted and welcomed by my fellow peers, I felt like it was a sign to leave my mark on the world. Because my pint glass said this:
'It's Your World.... Pay Attention'
I so wanted to nick the glass! Even though it's against my Christian principles, I was very sorely tempted and even said to some of the other girls 'does anyone have a big enough bag to nick this for me?'!! To which I was met with teeth sucking and reminders about cctv cameras. Thank you guys for keeping me accountable! But the quote is just perfect! Your world is what you make it, look sharp, pay attention and make it a welcoming, joyful place that others will want to join you on your journey.
So come join our colourful, welcoming community that is the Indie Rollercoaster gang! Leona is launching the website on Thursday 14th February 2019 and it will be open for 100 sign ups to a new Make it Happen group! It's not just about the people but the wealth of information and motivation to be had is just invaluable. Here are my top 5 tips for 'making it happen' for your indie biz that I've learnt during my short time in the group.
What is your Number One Top Priority for your business this year?
I'm a big believer in writing things down to help make it happen. Once your intention is out of your head and committed to pen and paper or typed out in technology, there is evidence to suggest we are more psychologically tuned to act out that intention. You can also share it with a friend, on your social media accounts or talk about it with a loved one. Put your intention out there and go for it! Your vision can be as small or as big as you want it. My vision for this year is to make my business profitable by the end of 2019. At the moment, I am at a loss month to month. So I want to have a business that pays for itself at the very least.
What are your Challenges?
Take some time to think about your current biggest challenges in your business. These could be in the day to day running of your business or could involve the bigger picture. Write them all down. Then tackle them, one at a time. You could mind map some strategies that would help overcome these obstacles. Reach out to your business community on your platform of choice (Facebook groups, Instagram pods, Whatsapp group messages) and ask for advice. You no doubt have the solution, it's just that you may not have really sat down to think about it. We are all so busy with our day to day duties and sometimes, it's enough to just keep going and keep our heads above the water! So you will probably surprise yourself in coming up with the solutions. Mull it over while going for a walk, doing the housework, or any other kind of mundane task. Just let your thoughts wander over it, don't try to overthink it too much. Once a thought is in our subconscious, our brains will be ticking over in the background trying to work it out. A caveat of Leona's is to let things simmer and give it time.
Plan, Plan, and Plan Again!
Another great piece of advice from Leona is to factor in time to work ON your business. This is aside from the day to day running tasks, such as: packing/shipping; idea generation; content creation; blogging; marketing; social media upkeep; making products; photography and so on. It is time well spent working on the bigger picture of where you want your business to be going. It's about doing the deeper work in relation to your 'why?', what motivates you? What drives you to have this business? What are your brand values? Take the time to do a yearly planner and think about events you want to sell at. Think about seasonality and when you might want to add new products in line with that. By planning these things and being more confident on your brand, you will see your business take off!
Get Some Accountability in Community
No man is an island as the old quote goes. Being an indie biz can sometimes be rather lonely if you do it full time and don't have the luxury of a shared work space. This was a huge factor behind Leona's 'why?', to create a community where we are all in it together. I really feel like the Make it Happen group are my work colleagues. It's so nice to have someone such as Leona to be your mentor and having the group behind you too to cheer you on! You can easily find online groups to fit your niche. There is of course the free Facebook group that Leona runs The Rollercoaster of Running a Business. I really recommend attending some networking conferences too to really build on those relationships. I found In Colourful Company after being recommended it from Blogtacular. And ICC then led to finding Leona! Put yourself out there, there could be the perfect group just waiting for you to discover! If it all seems a bit scary, you could easily just ask a close friend if they would be willing to meet up with you once a month, once a week, whatever they can spare to just check in with your goals and help you with any struggles. You may even have made some online friendships and already be part of an Instagram pod, a Whatsapp message group or Facebook message group. Perhaps you have a close friend that also runs an indie biz and you naturally chat about biz stuff anyway. It's not essential but it is so valuable to have other like minded people that will cheer you on and let you rant when times get tough.
Do the Work!
This seems pretty obvious but it's all very well to take time to plan, write lists and dream. If you don't actually take action, then nothing will move forward! I sometimes joke how I enjoy writing lists more than I enjoy actually doing them! It's the same with your biz. We can get pretty swept up in the dreaming and planning stage, but it takes some discipline to get on with it. Don't be afraid of failure either. The weekly sharing thread in Leona's big Facebook group is titled 'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway'! The biggest failure is not doing anything! I ran a wedding planning business for a year before I realised my biggest mistake was not doing market research. Another mistake I made was not being in it for the money. These two things combined meant it was doomed to failure from the start. There was no market for it in my home town of Southend-on-Sea but I also didn't want to do high end weddings in London. I don't see it as a failed business but rather my first attempt at having my own business! I learnt so much from that year. That the blogging was my favourite thing. To have a 5 year plan and not worry about being an overnight success. It opened up my eyes to the sheer amount of work and effort needed to run your own business. Let alone all the marketing and social media knowledge I acquired during that time. So don't be afraid to take risks. Chalk it up and learn for next time. However, a note of caution, we all know what we can cope with in terms of mental health. So be kind to yourself and don't be afraid to say no if you think the stress and pressure could have a negative effect on you. Practice self care and take a step back if you need to. Don't be afraid to take risks but equally don't beat yourself up if that particular opportunity is not for you.
I trust that all resonated with you and you found some value in this blog. What are your top tips for setting your business goals? Please do let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!
The shot of the 'Time to Brew' mugs was taken by Leona.
The first group shot was taken at the Indie Rollercoaster social in London 2018.
The 'No Dreams, just Goals' is my A4 notepad from Typo.
The second group shot is Leona's and was taken at this networking event at Dreamland's roller disco.
And the rest are my own, if you click on the 'Rise up, the victory is yours' mug you can add it to your cart for £7.99!
I'm Julia, Just Creative Julia, jolly pleased to meet you!
Welcome to my creative lifestyle blog, established 2014. My main sections are: creativity including crafting, poetry and interior design; well being including mental health, recipes and my faith in God; personal including parenting and my general introvert deep thoughts. You can also have a browse in my shop and Etsy shop.